WinInfo Short Takes: Thanksgiving 2006 Special Edition

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including Thanksgiving (of course), Zune silliness, the non-existent Office 2007 kill switch, the non-existent Fresno, Office 2007 UI licensing, a threatened Novell and Microsoft pact, and much more...

WinInfo Blog

Short Takes

- Microsoft: Sorry, Mary, There's No Office "Kill Switch"
- Microsoft: No Such Thing as Fresno
- Microsoft Will License Office 2007 UI for Free
- Not News: Microsoft Still Working on Vista, or More Correctly,
Microsoft Partners Still Working on Vista Drivers
- Microsoft/Novell Pact Already in Tatters
- US: Windows Vista Is in Compliance with Antitrust Accord
- Rumor Debunking: No "Gears of War" for PC
- Microsoft Didn't Create Zune (Obviously), But--and this Is the
Important Bit--the Company IS Responsible for It
- Surprise: Dell Profits Are Up
- Google Share Price Hits $500
- Happy Thanksgiving

WinInfo Blog

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

There's something wonderful about Thanksgiving, despite its roots in Puritan America. The Puritans were so pious that they considered forks a luxury, and the fact that a tradition they (sort of) started is flourishing in the modern world is somewhat incredible. That the Thanksgiving holiday has made it to this point with minimal crass commercialization is even more incredible: Today, Thanksgiving is still just about getting together with family and enjoying a fine meal. Oh, and watching some football. It's exactly what the Puritans envisioned, I'm sure.

Attention Zune users: How many of you have actually found another Zune owner in the wild and shared music or photos wirelessly? Anyone? Bueller? I'm just kidding, of course. You'd have better luck catching a coelacanth in Boston Harbor than you would finding someone with a Zune.

The Windows Weekly podcast should be back in action this week, despite the holiday. We're going to record Friday's show this evening, if possible.

Short Takes

An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft: Sorry, Mary, There's No Office "Kill Switch"

Last week, ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley claimed that Microsoft had added a "kill switch" to the Microsoft Office 2007 system that would force the product into a reduced-functionality mode if Microsoft detected that the product was pirated. Not true, Microsoft says. The version of Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) included with Office 2007 doesn't support this functionality at all--a fact that the software maker had previously disclosed.

Microsoft: No Such Thing as Fresno

Several of my friends at Microsoft contacted me this week to tell me that the End User License Agreement (EULA)-less Longhorn Server appliance product I mentioned last week isn't happening. And that's a shame, because the device--supposedly code-named Fresno--seemed like a great idea. What is happening is a new mid-sized-business server, code-named Centro, and a Windows Server 2003 Release 2 (R2)-based home server--the latter of which we've been anticipating for some time now. Stay tuned.

Microsoft Will License Office 2007 UI for Free

This is fun: Microsoft said this week that it will license its innovative new Office 2007 UI--which uses tabs and ribbons instead of old-school menus and toolbars--to any interested parties for free. The license will let anyone build applications that look and work like Office 2007--a capability that the company's partners have repeatedly requested. Given that Microsoft spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing the so-called RibbonX UI, you have to love the price. Plus, it's a cool UI.

Not News: Microsoft Still Working on Vista, or More Correctly, Microsoft Partners Still Working on Vista Drivers

Several reports have surfaced this week describing how Microsoft is still working on Windows Vista in the months leading up to its January 30, 2007, launch. That's not completely true, however. What's really happening is that Microsoft's hardware partners are working on getting Vista-compatible drivers ready for the launch, and these drivers will be made available to Vista customers via Windows Update. The only Vista-based work Microsoft is actively doing right now is on Windows Ultimate Extras, those Microsoft Plus!-like applications and services the company will offer to Vista Ultimate users beginning in January.

Microsoft/Novell Pact Already in Tatters

Why can't we just get along? Oh, right, one of us is a drooling, monopolistic superpower and the other is a New Age hippy convinced that we can all make money by giving away software. This week, it became clear that the Microsoft/Novell pact was made with a lot of false assumptions on both sides, apparently, with Microsoft claiming that Novell must pay it $40 million to cover Linux violations of Microsoft's intellectual property. Meanwhile, Novell says it never agreed that Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property. But it gets worse: The Free Software Foundation (FSF), which owns the Linux license, says that Microsoft should pledge not to sue all Linux users over this problem; otherwise, Linux companies shouldn't work with Microsoft. The problem is that the Microsoft/Novell pact violates the GNU General Public License (GPL) under which Linux is licensed. "We have agreed to disagree," a Microsoft representative said. You know, wars start over disagreements such as this one.

US: Windows Vista Is in Compliance with Antitrust Accord

This week, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a report with the US District Court in Washington, DC this week, stating that Microsoft appears to have met its antitrust settlement commitments with Vista and Internet Explorer (IE) 7.0. "Microsoft \[has\] addressed all outstanding middleware-related bug issues prior to Vista being released to manufacturing," the report notes. If only Microsoft could be this successful with the European Union (EU).

Rumor Debunking: No "Gears of War" for PC

Rabid video game fans quickly made the recently released "Gears of War" the fastest-selling Xbox 360 game ever, with sales of the Xbox 360-specific shooter barely missing the historic mark that "Halo 2" set two years ago. But when a Microsoft promotional image of a retail end cap for its Games for Windows initiative showed a copy of "Gears of War" on the shelves, the excitement really broke out: Microsoft was going to bring "Gears of War" to the PC! There's just one problem: It ain't happening. "This DOES NOT indicate a confirmation that 'Gears of Wars' will be a Games for Windows title--it was a concept image created by a concept artist, nothing more," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "We're incredibly excited about the success of 'Gears of War' on Xbox 360, but we have nothing further to announce about 'Gears of War' or any other platforms it might come to, at this time."

Microsoft Didn't Create Zune (Obviously), But--and this Is the Important Bit--the Company IS Responsible for It

I've been pretty critical of Microsoft's Zune because the device is a half-hearted attempt at wresting control away from Apple's iPod at a time when Microsoft really needs a home run. But there's a bizarre argument making the rounds that in this case, criticism of Microsoft is unfounded because Microsoft didn't even make the Zune: The device is essentially a Toshiba gigabeat wrapped with a branding message that a marketing company in California created. And although I'm sure we're all hugely surprised that there isn't an iota of innovative work in a Microsoft product, I'd like to bring everyone back to one crucial point: It doesn't matter which company manufactured it, designed it, or came up with the marketing. Microsoft is selling this device to you, its customers, and the device is therefore Microsoft's responsibility. Any success or failure with the Zune rests in the hands of the people who hatched the half-baked plot. This is hubris at its most obvious: Sell it and they will come. But buy it ... and you are dumb.

Surprise: Dell Profits Are Up

This week, Dell reported a higher-than-expected profit for its fiscal third quarter, somewhat blunting a recent bout of problems at the company. Dell says its new strategy of selling more profitable PCs--rather than engaging in an all-out pricing war--appears to be working, and the company claims to have also made dramatic customer service improvements. Dell's net income rose 12 percent year-to-year to $677 million on revenues of $14.4 billion. Dell's earnings results were delayed because of an ongoing formal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation. So Dell's troubles aren't necessarily over yet.

Google Share Price Hits $500

From the "capitalism can be stupid" files, we bring you the latest bit of Googlemania: This week, Google's shares actually crossed the $500 mark, increasing the company's market capitalization to $155 billion. That means that Google--which earns virtually all its money from online advertising--is worth four times as much money, at least on paper, as Yahoo!, its closest competitor. Google is now the 15th largest company in the world, and if I understand things correctly, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin can now be considered replacements for Colonel Sanders in "The Star Chamber." I just want to make sure this is perfectly clear: These guys sell thumbnail-sized text ad placements on Web sites. That's what they do.

Happy Thanksgiving

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, we won't be publishing the WinInfo Daily Update newsletter again until Monday, November 27, 2006. However, if anything important happens before then, I'll be available to post to the Web site. Enjoy the long weekend. --Paul

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